This week we head to Medieval Scotland and find our inspiration in the Scottish Highlands with Merida from Disney’s Brave.
The story of Brave begins with a girl and her destiny. The fiery haired Merida wants nothing less than to be free to ride her horse through the country side, but her royal station in life dictates that she behave like a lady and marry a man worthy of her. Her mother takes great care to teach her such Queenly activities like making tapestries. Merida has no interest in that life and after finding a witch’s hut in the woods, finds a way around her current problem and casts a spell on her mother.
The spell backfires and Queen Elinor is turned into a bear and if the spell isn’t broken in time, Merida’s mother will end up that way permanently, just like her father’s arch nemesis Mor’du.
Brave is unique in the Disney cannon because it is the first time a Disney Princess isn’t looking for a Prince, trying to win the heart of a Prince or even ending up with a Prince in the end at all. Merida has no interest in marriage. She wants to live her own life and be free to choose her own path, not blindly follow destiny.
For this week’s meal plan, we take our inspiration from a traditional Scottish menu:
-Fish (salmon, trout, pike)
-Wild Game Meats: Venison, Quail, Pheasant, Boar (substitute Boar for plain old pork and Pheasant for plain old chicken if you must)
-Shellfish (mussels, oysters, lobster, crab)
-Haggis (if you can handle it!)
-butter and cheeses (moderate amounts)
-Fruits (Raspberries, Strawberries, Tayberries)
-Scottish Ale (in moderation)
This Scottish Menu is a little heavier than what I was used to, so I went really easier on the heavier things like potatoes and cheeses and the foods I’d never had before like Haggis! But I enjoyed this menu a lot!
This week’s playlist is whimsical and, like Mulan playlist, is great to listen to from top to bottom for a full musical story or on shuffle for a smattering of great Rapunzel inspired tunes!
Fairytale – Harry Gregson-Williams
Once Upon a December – Liz Callaway
Castle – Halsey
Fairytales – Alex Preston
Nolita Fairytale – Vanessa Carlton
Hair – New Broadway Cast Recording “Hair”
When Will My Life Begin – Mandy Moore
Lights – Jef Miles
Lights – Ellie Goulding
Shooting Star – Owl City
Almost There – Anika Noni Rose
When Will My Life Begin (Reprise 2) – Mandy Moore
Take on the World – Rowan Blanchard, Sabrina Carpenter
Try Everything – Shakira
Wildside – Sofia Carson, Sabrina Carpenter
Whip My Hair – Willow
I’ve Got a Dream – Tangled Soundtrack
Dreams – Fleetwood Mac
Dream On – Aerosmith
Dreaming – Smallpools
Healing Incantation – Mandy Moore
The Glow – Shannon Saunders
Kingdom Dance – Alan Menken
Flowers in Your Hair – The Lumineers
Fireflies – Owl City
Bubbly – Colbie Caillat
At the Beginning – Film Score Orchestra
I Can See the Light – Hamilton Cast
I’m Beginning to See the Light – Michael Bublé
Long As I Can See the Light – Creedence Clearwater Revival
I See the Light – Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi
Terrified – Katharine McPhee
See the Light – Matrimony
Lanterns – Birds of Tokyo
A Sky Full of Stars – Coldplay
Counting Star – OneRepublic
When the Stars Go Blue – Tyler Hilton & Bethany Joy Lenz
Lost Stars – Adam Levine
Starlight – Empire Cast
Starlight – Neverest
Seeing Stars – BORNS
Journey to the Past – Liz Callaway
Wind in My Hair – Mandy Moore
Tangled – Thomas Rhett
Hair – Lady Gaga
Castle on the Hill – Ed Sheeran
Something That I Want – Grace Potter
It’s Not Just Make Believe – Kari Kimmel
The Frying Pan – John Prine
Here’s your movie watch list for this week. A mix of Rapunzel inspired fairytales, musicals and random other selections that I added to the list for fun! (My list, my rules!)
As usual, we start with the inspiration for the week. Tangled burst onto the screens in 2010, though at times it feels like she’s been part of the Princess line up for far longer.
Speaking of princesses who don’t know they are princesses…Anastasia is the story of a young orphaned girl, Anya, who has no memory of her past. After meeting a couple of con artists who want to use her to trick the Grand Duchess into believing that she is the long lost Princess Anastasia, little orphan Anya starts to recall things long forgotten. And in the course of remembering who she is, Dimitri, the boy who once saved her from certain death, starts remembering her as well. With voice casting from Meg Ryan, John Cusack, Kelsey Grammar, Christopher Llyod, Bernadette Peters, Kirsten Dunst, Hank Azaria and the one and only Angela Lansbury as the Grand Duchess. If you didn’t grow up watching this movie, then I’m not sure it’s one you’ll love in this age of Disney animation. Nostalgia really has to be on your side!! It’s the Disney movie that isn’t Disney. And it shows.
And yet another princess who is not aware of her royal roots…the Princess Aurora is whisked away in the night by her 3 fairy godmothers, after the evil fairy Maleficent places a curse on the baby Princess. And all because she wasn’t invited to the party…beware using that red pen on evil fairy godmothers. Trust me, it’s safer just to invite them.
So Flora, Fauna and Merryweather secret the infant girl out of the castle and into the woods where she is raised as a young peasant girl who had to have questions about her parentage! Come on, 3 maiden aunts raising you in the woods? Questions are bound to pop up. But no, Aurora lives her quiet life and unlike Rapunzel, we don’t get the sense that she wonders too much about the world outside of her little forest. The only thing Aurora dreams of is her dreamy prince. Spoiler alert…she meets him…in the woods! And guess who he happens to be…the Prince. It’s a Disney fairytale, these things write themselves!
Into the Woods
Into the Woods could easily have been put on Cinderella’s Watch List, but that list was pretty full, so I saved it for this week. Into the Woods is a musical by Stephen Sondheim. And while I really enjoy this movie adaptation, it’s the stage production starring Bernadette Peters and Joanna Gleeson that I love most.
This musical takes a whole slew of fairytale stories and throws them into the same woods. What if Rapunzel’s Prince and Cinderella’s Prince were brothers? What if Jack from the Beanstalk met Little Red Riding Hood? And so on. What this story boils down to is the general theme of “careful what you wish for.” It’s not the bright, fluffy Disney story that you’re used to. Sondheim often poses questions about good and evil in his musicals. What if the villain has redeeming qualities? What if the hero is flawed? It’s a unique take on these fairytales and my second favorite musical of all time!
Ok, Barber Shop has little in common with Rapunzel, other than the over arching theme of…hair. But I’m putting it on the list, so deal! Barbershop is the story of a man, Ice Cube, who has had enough of running his father’s barbershop and decides to sell it to a man who wants to turn it into a strip club. Without telling anyone of his plans, Ice Cube sells it and sells out.
Ice Cube soon comes to realize the error he has made and how truly important the barbershop is, not only to the surrounding community, to his employees and patrons, but also to himself. And he goes about trying to get it back. Solid movie…go watch it! And if you get hooked on the franchise, give Barbershop 2: Back in Business a try as well as…
Beauty Shop spins out of Barbershop 2, where we are introduced to Queen Latifah’s Gina. Gina is sick and tired of her boss and his criticism and decides it’s time to open her own beauty shop. But things aren’t as easy as they seem. She finds herself up against clients who are set in their ways, prejudice, vandalism and the day to day struggle of raising a daughter and being a business owner. This movie, like Barbershop, is the story of community, of friendship and of overcoming struggles.
Another movie with little in common with our Disney heroine, but is full of magical hair! Hairspray is the story of Tracy Turnblad, a young girl in 1960’s Baltimore. All Tracy wants is to be on The Corny Collins’ Show and to have mile high hair, is that too much to ask? As fun as this musical is, it also takes time to challenge race relations in the 60’s. They explore integration, not only on the dance floor, but in the budding relationship between Penny and Seaweed. I saw this show 4 times on Broadway and love the movie adaptation starring John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Queen Latifah, Christopher Walken, Zac Efron, Amanda Bynes, Elijah Kelley, James Marsden, Allison Janney and new comer at the time, Nikki Blonsky as Tracy.
Mandy Moore (voice of Rapunzel in Tangled) stars in this frothy teen flick about the First Daughter running away to experience the world outside of the White House walls. She, like Rapunzel, feels that there’s more to life than what she has experienced. And she, like Rapunzel, takes the first chance to run away with a handsome dark haired stranger when it comes along. (Ok, it’s a stretch to say that this movie and Tangled have anything other than Mandy Moore in common, but that’s enough for me!) Also see First Daughter starring Katie Holmes which came out at the same time. Same movie, different cast!
When Mulan runs away from home to join Captain Shang and the Chinese army in her father’s place, she is a stranger to the rigors of boot camp and fitness. She is a veteran’s daughter, so she is not ignorant of what can happen in war. Her father is, in fact, injured from his service to the Emperor. But she truly has no idea what she’s getting herself into.
In this way, we have one up on Mulan. This is Week 4 of Disney Princess Boot Camp and while the workouts are revolving, the level of fitness and healthy eating has been maintained. But if you’re doing this Boot Camp and thinking to yourself “There’s no way I can dive into Chinese martial arts”…think again. Mulan did it and so can you!! And so could I!
Here’s a list of Chinese martial arts to choose from.
-Shaolin Kung Fu
-Karate (another form that has links to China as well as to Japan)
-Stick Fighting (Kendo and Bōjutsu are both Japanese forms of stick fighting, but Mulan and Co. do a lot of stick fighting in the movie. So if you have those forms available to you, even though they are Japanese and we are focusing on China, you can substitute them.)
-Sword Fighting (also look into stunt choreography to access the same kinds of skill building.)
Based on our location, what’s available to you may vary, but with the wonderful invention of the internet you have a lot more options than ever before. Take advantage. Here’s a look at what I did:
I found a posting in my local paper for a Tai Chi class run at a church close to me. It was only $8 for the class and the instructor really focused on core muscles and strategic, precise movements. It’s amazing how little steps can really challenge your body! I also found some great videos of Tai Chi on You Tube and did those as well. Here’s one to kick off your intro to Tai Chi:
In Orlando, we have a Kendo Club. To reiterate, this is a Japanese form of stick fighting. And I don’t like to mix around Asian cultures as they are all unique and different and incredibly interesting to learn about. But since there were few choices in my area regarding stick fighting, I went with the closest thing I could find which happened to be Kendo. I cannot stress enough that if you have the chance to take a stick fighting class of any kind, you should take it! Stretch your body beyond what you think it can do and surprise yourself!!
This should be the easiest for you to find in your area. Karate is another art that crosses the borders of Asian cultures. It has roots in Japan as well as in many other forms of Chinese Martial Arts.
Shaolin Kung Fu
This had to be my favorite thing this week. Shaolin Kung Fu is no joke and it is a purely Chinese martial art. Derived from the Buddist Shaolin temples in Henan province. Shaolin Kung Fu “combines Zen and martial arts.” I did these videos because I wasn’t able to get the Kung Fu classes available in my area on my schedule this week.
Here’s a really basic introduction:
Another great one that I enjoyed in the mornings:
This one is short, but this guy isn’t playing around!!
I hope you find time to enjoy challenging your body with these techniques. I know they challenged mine!
After a brief hiatus, we are charging forward into Week 4: Mulan Week! This week we are in China and studying all about Chinese culture, foods and fitness all while keeping Mulan herself as the central inspiration for the week.
When the Emperor sends out conscription notices to every family in the face of a looming attack from the Huns, Fa Mulan takes the place of her father, Fa Zhou, who is too old to fight. In an effort to spare her father, Mulan disguises herself as a man and uses the moniker, “Ping” to gain access to the training camp and not only pretends to be a soldier in the Emperor’s army, but eventually becomes one!
With the help of Mushu, a diminutive dragon who was decidedly NOT sent by Mulan’s ancestors to aid her, Mulan manages to find her place in the world in the most unlikely way. She discovers a strength in herself that was not permitted for women at the time. And, in turn, becomes the hero she deserves to be. (And in the meantime she gets the hots for Captain Li Shang, voiced by very American actor, Donny Osmond.)
Mulan is voiced by Chinese actress, Ming-Na Wen (most recently Agent May on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), while her singing voice is Lea Salonga (also the voice of Jasmine.)
This is another movie that lives in that happy place for me. I was a freshman in high school when this movie came out and was still very much into Disney movies! So despite it’s flaws, I can easily find it’s virtues. But I can also call a spade a spade and recognize that Disney could have done a lot better to do justice to Chinese culture and representation.
That being said, here’s a look at my meal plan for Mulan Week, which includes a rich assortment of Chinese foods:
-meat (chicken, pork and moderate amounts of red meat)
-Chinese fruits (kiwi, lychee, dragon fruit, pomelo, rambutan, ya pear)
-Chinese vegetables (bok choy, napa cabbage, water spinach, watercress, pea shoots, bitter melon)
-Other vegetables (broccoli, green beans, carrots, cauliflower)
-soy sauce (use very moderately or swap out regular sauce for a low sodium or light version)
-soup at every meal (the Chinese believe in yin and yang meals that consist of wet and dry foods together)
-white rice (another thing to eat moderately)
A note about switching from a Native American (Pocahontas Week) meal plan to a Chinese (Mulan Week) meal plan. It was a drastic change for my stomach and I tried very hard to ease into the new assortment of foods. I had never tried some of these fruits and vegetables, which was a lot of fun. But it meant that I didn’t know how they would effect me. Just be careful and try things in small amounts and who knows, you might discover some delicious flavors you’ll want to keep eating after Mulan Week is over! I personally loved the Chinese ya pear. It is a fruit I have added to my shopping list permanently!!
There are plenty of other Chinese foods to choose from, this is just the shopping list I was working with. I tried to keep it balanced with the food groups I’d already been working with. Fruit, lots and lots of vegetables, very moderate grains, and meats. The new piece to this week’s equation was the balance of wet foods and dry foods creating the yin/yang meals found in an average Chinese diet. Another interesting fact I found out, the Chinese believe vegetables to be more of a main course item than meat. So a lot of the recipes are veggie centric, which I really enjoyed! Stir-fry was an easy go to for dinners when I wanted something filling and easy to make.
One week can’t change your whole body. One week isn’t enough time to meet aggressive goals, like the ones I’d created for myself. But one week can start you down a better path. One week can wake you up to a better life. I don’t like to call this a diet…it’s not one. It’s a lifestyle. Now, am I going to live like this for the rest of my life? No. Will this work for everyone? No. Did I find success doing it? Yes. And the point is to share that success with you!
Because when I created it, I had no idea what would happen. But I learned that my success came from diving in with both feet and taking this challenge seriously. Success came from constantly staying in a Cinderella state of mind through my Food Plan, Fitness Plan, Movies and Music, and Fashion choices.
As I mentioned in my introduction, I gave up weighing myself for the whole of this 8 weeks. So, I can’t tell you how much weight I lost after the first week, but I know my arms felt stronger from cleaning and weeding and lifting. My legs were pleasantly sore from stairs and dancing. Sugar had no hold on me after this week and while I continued to take each day as they came, I started to believe that I could meet the goals I’d set for myself. It felt like I’d really created something that ensured a successful outcome for me.As a major league Disnerd, a fitness series based on Disney Princesses is right up my alley!
When I’m in the middle of a fitness series, especially one that has such a specific theme, I like to do all I can to stay in theme, as you could tell from my other blog posts this week. The foods I ate reflected Cinderella, the movies I watched, the music I listened to, the fitness activities I did and since I do consider myself a fashionable person, my fashion reflected Cinderella this week too. From my workout clothes to my nails and beyond.
Work, work, work, work, work…
On the steps of the palace…
Dancing through life….
After the ball…
Happily Ever After…
Is there something that helps you focus on your goals?
As I mentioned in my Meal Plan Post, Cinderella is an easy Princess to find fitspiration in. She is a hard working girl. And we know she’s fit cause she didn’t even break a sweat running down all those stairs, in high heels no less. Well…high heel!
Here’s what I did for Cinderella Week in regards to a fitness plan. For all 8 weeks of #PrincessBootCamp I challenged myself to work out at least 4 days a week. I could do more, of course. I could even do smaller workouts on some days, but if I got in 4 days of fitness, I considered it a win.
In order to create some variety for myself, I created this list of Cinderella inspired activities to choose from:
-Deep Cleaning (house, yard, garage…whatever you can find)
-Ballroom Dancing (classes, DVD’s, You Tube videos)
Doesn’t matter which activity you choose to do. You can pick all of them or just one that you find yourself enjoying. Me? I chose to do all the activities as much as I could throughout the week. Whenever I had some extra time on my hands I was running the stairs to my apartment or doing a Dancing with the Stars DVD. Anything to keep myself motivated and stay in a Cinderella state of mind.
Gym memberships are really expensive, and Cinderella simply didn’t have one in her budget! So instead, I offered my cleaning services and in turn got a serious workout in. I felt good about helping my parents (a very Cinderella thing to do) and I burnt major calories organizing, weeding, moving boxes, sweeping, etc.
Finally, I took a ballroom dancing class at my local Arthur Murray. I explained to my instructor what I was looking to accomplish and he was so game to teach me the Waltz and Viennese Waltz as well as discuss why Cinderella might have been exposed to those dances specifically. He was also very sad there was no Latin Princess that I could come back and do another lesson for. (Obviously he’s never heard of Elena of Avalor, but unfortunately, she’s not on my list this time around.)
Like I said in my post yesterday, I gave up the scale for this whole 8 weeks and started trusting my body to tell me what it needed, how it felt, what kind of progress we were making together and after week 1…I felt pretty great!
Clean eating had flushed out a lot of the bad stuff that I’d been relying on and broke the hold sugar had on me. I know the first couple pounds are the easiest to lose, but I took that feeling and held on tight!
Starting is always the hardest part with it comes to a new fitness plan. At least for me it is. Months of eating poorly and choosing Netflix over any strenuous physical activity had left my body in very poor shape. I live in a 2nd floor apartment and stairs were quickly becoming my nemesis.
At the start of 2017, I chose the word “Believe” as my word of the year. I picked it at a time when I was having trouble believing in anything, myself least of all. But I saw this challenge as a chance to start believing again. And for the next 8 weeks, that’s what I did. I dove into #PrincessBootCamp with both feet and I started to believe that I could do things I hadn’t done in a long time, believe that I could do things I’d never tried before!
As I said in my introduction post, I’m in a different place than I was when I was an #AvengerinTraining and repeating what worked then simply wasn’t an option. So a new series was born.
Week 1 I focused on Cinderella.
Cinderella is the story of a girl who loses her mother, then loses her father and is left in the care of her evil stepmother and stepsisters. She is basically held captive by these uncaring women and with little love or compassion, is left to a life of slavery and cruelty. Her socio economic status makes it impossible for her to break free from this household.
Being the kind-hearted, optimistic young women she is, Cinderella takes each challenge as it comes to her and never lets it make her cruel or bitter herself. She is a hard worker who spends plenty of time dreaming of what could be. Does she dream of princes? Yes. But given her situation in life, and her view of the palace, can you blame her? It’s a tangible representation of the life she could have, if only…
Cinderella spends her days in the kitchen cooking for her “family,” in the garden working her fingers to the bone. She does the chores in the house and she makes sure everything is in working order. If there is back breaking work to be done, it falls to Cinderella’s slender shoulders and do we ever hear her utter one complaint in most of the movie adaptations? One bitter invective? No, we do not. This Princess is kind and persistent and she does not let the circumstance of her life change her kind heart. Now, that is something to aspire to!
In an effort to channel Cindy for this first week of #PrincessBootCamp I created a meal plan for the week based on what a 19th century peasant girl might have been eating at the time. My shopping list looked like this:
-whole grain bread (the cheapest kind)
-butter or low cost jams
-inexpensive cuts of meat (ie: ground beef, chicken, whatever is cheapest at the market)
-greens (brussel sprouts and spinach)
-apples, blackberries, raspberries
-water, water, water
Monday through Saturday, I adhered strictly to the above list and DID NOT DEVIATE…can I tell you what a win it was to make a plan and stick to it. Even for 6 days. It was a bloody triumph!!! Now the amount of food I ate from day to day varied. With an elevated level of activity, some days I needed more energy than others. And since all the food on my list was good stuff, I felt perfectly fine not counting the calories and just trusting my body. I also gave up weighing myself for the whole 8 weeks. In fact, I encourage you to do the same with any fitness plan you take on. That scale becomes a crutch very quickly if we let it. Don’t let it!
On the seventh day, I let myself go to the ball and I indulged in a delicious piece of chocolate cake from my favorite place in Winter Park: The Briar Patch. In order to fully embrace your inner Cinderella, you have to accept that home girl probably got her eat on at that ball, despite what we see on screen! I think she would have taken the chance to taste something delicious at some point in the night. Even if she was short on time and dazzled by a handsome prince! Think what you want…I choose to believe in the power of cake!
When I think of starry nights, I think of one in particular. There was a girl and a boy and a perfect date.
A date so memorable that I made an episode about it in my web series a few years ago. Take a look…
You know what’s funny? Well, maybe funny is the wrong word. Tragic may be more appropriate! Back then I used to blame everything that happened on dates on myself. How I acted, what I wore, what I said, if I was nice enough, if I smiled enough. Maybe we ended up “just friends” because I didn’t let him kiss me that night.
Or hey…maybe it wasn’t me at all. Maybe the circumstance of his life left him unable to move onto someone new and I came around at exactly the wrong moment. Or maybe it was bad timing all around. Maybe I did nothing wrong at all and it was exactly what it was!
The older I get the more I find myself exonerating…myself from past “sins.” I think that’s called getting wiser.
No matter what I did in my past, I learned from it. I grew and became a better person. Hell, I love who I am today and I had to get here by going through ALL THAT SH*T!!! By doing stupid things like sharing starry nights with boys who just wanted to be friends with me. Starry nights are something very special. Don’t waste them!
Moral of the story is…don’t stop dreaming because of one “perfect” night under the stars. I did. I changed when that weird, non-lationship ended the way it was always going to end. I put romance and dating and boyfriends and falling in love in a little box marked “DO NOT OPEN.” And why? Because one boy wasn’t someone I had a future with. Silly, Lizzie!
I don’t blame him. It wasn’t his fault. And now I finally know, in my heart, that it wasn’t mine either. Maybe now I can stop putting that night on a damned pedestal and move the hell on! It’s time!!
From now on, I’m saving my starry nights for someone who deserves them!